All hail King Remco
Evenepoel's many fans gathered in Brussels to herald the 22-year-old after an incredible season.
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It’s been a phenomenal season for Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). He amassed a total of 15 victories for the year, not least overall wins at the Tour of Norway and the Volta ao Algarve, his first Monument win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his first Grand Tour win at the Vuelta a España (where he also took two stage victories), and most recently, his first road race world title, at just 22.
That’s plenty to celebrate. And celebrate Evenepoel did, with thousands of his closest friends for company in Brussels this past weekend.
The festivities began on Saturday morning with Evenepoel doing his first training ride in the rainbows of world champion.
He rode again Sunday morning before the ‘Remco Day’ celebrations kicked off early afternoon. First was a reception for Evenepoel in his hometown of Dilbeek, Flanders.
There an official meet and greet where Evenepoel (and his fiancée Oumi Rayane) met the aldermen of Dilbeek.
A quick costume change later, Evenepoel was stepping on stage to the cheers of a large crowd gathered in the carpark of the Dilbeek Cultural Centre.
By signing the “Golden Book” of Dilbeek, Evenepoel officially became an honorary citizen of the municipality.
Football (soccer) club Anderlecht, where Evenepoel played as a junior, had organised a jersey for Evenepoel, signed by all the players in the first XI.
Specialized, too, had organised a gift for the 22-year-old: a new Tarmac with some subtle nods to Evenepoel’s Worlds win.
Evenepoel also received this very busy custom-painted time trial helmet.
With the ceremony in Dilbeek complete, Evenepoel and Rayane hopped in a BMW convertible with rainbow decals and, with the help of a police escort, made the 7 km journey into Brussels. Behind them, a large bunch of cyclists, young and old, following along for the journey into the Belgian capital.
On the way into town the convoy stopped outside the nearby Cafe in De Rustberg, “the official Remco Evenepoel fan café”, where Evenepoel took a phone call as the crowd chanted his name.
In Brussels’ Grote Markt thousands waited for the 22-year-old world champion to arrive. Evenepoel and his entourage turned up 15 minutes late, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind – there were hearty cheers when Evenepoel emerged on the balcony of the Brussels town hall, waving to those gathered below, now wearing his Worlds gold medal as well as his rainbow jersey.
Evenepoel was joined on the balcony by his family, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammates Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert and Pieter Serry, and team sports director Klaas Lodewyck. Evenepoel addressed the rapturous crowd, saying “This has been a fantastic year and I can’t thank everyone enough for it.
“There are now three [Worlds] teammates here, but I also want to thank Wout (Van Aert), Quinten (Hermans), Nathan (Van Hooydonck), Stan (Dewulf) and Jasper (Stuyven). For the Vuelta I especially want to thank the team. And then my family, my girlfriend, the staff – I have so many people to thank.”
And then the party began. There were thumping beats, there were deafening chants of “Remco! Remco!” , and there was Evenepoel trying to rev up the crowd.
Evenepoel even tried his hand at DJing … or at least he posed like he was DJing. Of course, Evenepoel would never pose doing something he wasn’t actually doing.
And then, eventually it was done. Evenepoel, his family and friends all left the town hall and the thousands that had gathered in the Grote Markt headed home. Everyone seemed to have had a great time, including Evenepoel who was blown away by the reception.
Evenepoel’s remarkable season will end on Tuesday with his first race in the rainbow jersey: Binche-Chimay-Binche. What might 2023 have in store for the Belgian wunderkind?